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Bike the North Branch promotes small businesses

North Branch Works
August 15, 2022

Thirty-eight people participated in the 2nd Annual Bike the North Branch, visiting an incredible group of local businesses, including restaurants, a record label, and a brewery.

Our tour started at 1308 Chicago, a new minority-and women-owned restaurant located at 1308 N. Elston Avenue (pictured above). The menu features classic prohibition era cocktails and a variety of vegan friendly, gluten-free, and meat dishes.

1308 Chicago has a “speak-eatery” vibe with sophisticated wallpaper, reclaimed wood accents, and comfortable tufted furniture.

The docks at Rockwell on the River

Then we rode north on Elston taking the bike lanes to Rockwell Street where we turned right and visited Rockwell on the River (3057 N Rockwell St.), an innovative adaptive reuse of a former tannery.

Now a campus full of dynamic small businesses, Rockwell is the home of Soul & Smoke, a new minority-owned, woman-led award-winning barbeque restaurant. Soul & Smoke specializes in comfort food and slow roasted, braised, and smoked meats.

During our stop at Soul & Smoke, Chef D’Andre Carter spoke about growing up on the South Side of Chicago with a culture that celebrates food. His passion for barbeque started at his grandmother’s house where he would help prepare meals for the family.

After leaving Rockwell, our group biked north on Rockwell to Belmont Avenue and turned right crossing over the Chicago River via the Belmont Avenue Bridge.

Delmark Records

Then we turned left onto Campbell Avenue before making another left on Melrose Street, bringing us into Clark Park.

After riding the trails in Clark Park, we crossed over the Chicago River via the breathtaking Riverview Bridge, the longest bike and pedestrian bridge in the city.

Designed by Epstein Engineering, the Riverview Bridge is a thousand feet long and part of the 312 RiverRun Trail, which will eventually connect Clark, California, and Horner Parks.

The Riverview Bridge won an award from Friends of the Chicago River for its ecologically friendly design.

The Riverview Bridge

After crossing the Riverview Bridge, we took the under-bridge connection below Irving Park Road and rode from Irving Park to Rockwell St. and continued north to Delmark Records (4121 N Rockwell Street).

Delmark Records is the oldest continuously operating independent jazz and blue label in the United States. A woman-owned business, Delmark Records is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2022. You can enjoy live music at Delmark Records from 12-9 p.m. on Sept. 3rd as part of the Rockwell Jazz & Blues Street Stroll.

The bike tour wrapped up with pizza and beer at Burning Bush Brewery (4014 N Rockwell Street). This family-owned microbrewery launched during the pandemic and is deeply passionate about beer, community, and service.

Burning Bush is a great example of how manufacturing has shifted from large companies to smaller neighborhood businesses.

North Branch Works would like to thank everyone who participated in the bike tour and our incredible local businesses: 1308 Chicago, Soul & Smoke, Delmark Records, and Burning Bush Brewery.

We’d also like to recognize our partners: the Active Transportation Alliance, the North Branch Trail Alliance, Epstein Engineering, Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, and North River Commission.

North Branch Works has one more summer outing planned: a kayak tour of the North Branch on Saturday, Aug. 27th from 9-11:30 a.m. We hope you can join us. Please sign up here.

Burning Bush Brewery

Image credits: Erick Alvarez Sarabia, Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC)

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